SC dismisses Manish Sisodia’s plea seeking quashing of defamation case by Himanta Biswa Sarma
The Delhi deputy chief minister had alleged that during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Assam CM had given PPE kit contracts to firms linked to his wife and son.
The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a petition filed by Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia seeking to quash a defamation case filed against him by Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, Live Law reported.
Sisodia had moved the Supreme Court after the Gauhati High Court had refused to quash the case on November 9.
The Aam Aadmi Party leader had on June 5 alleged in a press conference that Sarma gave contracts to companies owned by his wife Riniki Bhuyan Sarma and his son Nandil Biswa Sarma’s business partners to supply personal protective equipment kits above market rates during the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.
Later that month, Riniki Bhuyan Sarma filed a civil defamation suit against Sisodia, while the chief minister filed a criminal defamation complaint.
Appearing for the Delhi deputy chief minister, lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi on Monday said that he never alleged that the chief minister’s wife had received money, Bar and Bench reported. “You cannot use authority like this to browbeat,” he said.
Justice Sanjay Kaul, however, did not accept the contention. “Once you reduce public discourse to this level, you have to face the consequences,” he said. “You should have put an unconditional apology.”
Justice Kaul also asked the AAP leader why he made allegations against Sarma in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, instead of “supporting the government”.
The court allowed Singhvi to withdraw the petition after he said that he would put forward his arguments before the lower court.
On June 5, Sisodia had referred to reports in The Wire and The Cross Current that were based on replies from the state’s National Health Mission to Right To Information applications. The report by The Wire alleged that the contract to supply medical utilities was approved without following a proper tender process.
Sisodia had alleged that Himanta Biswa Sarma, who was the health minister of Assam in 2020, gave urgent supply orders to Riniki Bhuyan Sarma’s firm JCB Industries and an associate’s company Meditime Healthcare.
Sarma, however, denied the allegations and claimed that his wife had gifted the PPE kits to the Assam government during the first wave of the pandemic.